Ben Ali faces dozens of charges by Tunisian military justice

AFP , Saturday 18 Jun 2011

Tunisian military prosecutors are to weigh dozens of charges against ousted leader Zine el Abidine Ben Ali concerning civilian deaths during the north African country's revolution

Three military courts may prosecute Tunisian ousted President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his former interior minister Rafik Belhaj Kacem in 182 cases relating to 300 civilian deaths between December 17 and January 14, according to the head of the army judiciary, Colonel Major Marwane Bouguerra.

The first date marked the death by self-immolation of a vegetable vendor that is said to have sparked the revolution, while the second is when Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia.
The probes will determine responsibility for the death of demonstrators, Bougerra said late Friday.

"Who killed, who directly carried out the murder? Who gave the order to kill? Military justice must determine the responsibilities," he said, stressing that the trials would be conducted in full respect of "legal guarantees."

A policeman will go on trial before a military court in Sfax on June 27, accused of a murder on the night Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi fled the country.
Meanwhile a civil court in Tunis will on Monday open a trial in absentia of the former presidential couple, focussing on vast sums of money and jewels as well as weapons and drugs allegedly found in two presidential palaces.

Investigators are trying to establish an inventory of ill-gotten gains amassed by the ousted president and his wife, estimated by the head of a national commission as being worth about a quarter of Tunisia's gross national product.

Conviction on these allegations is punishable by five to 20 years in prison, but a murder conviction by a military court would carry the death penalty. Saudi Arabia has so far not replied to extradition requests from Tunis.

Bouguerra said an accord reached in Riyadh in 1983 covers extradition between all Arab states.

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